Defence for Children International urges MRU States to amplify actions towards policy implementation to address children`s rights issues in the Mano River Region
(Freetown/Makeni, 11, December 2018) – On their 5th Convening on children’s rights, CSOs, including children and youth organizations working in the Mano River Region and the National Sections of Defence for Children International (DCI) Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, have called on MRU States to promptly increase national and regional policy implementation to address children`s rights issues in the Mano River Region.
The theme for this year`s Convening was: “Prompting more actions towards policy implementation to address children’s rights issues in the Mano River Region– From Words to Action.” The purpose of the Convening was to develop a joint sub-regional strategic plan for the protection of children across the region in accordance to the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for the protection of children, adopted by ministers of ECOWAS States in 2017.
This theme is crucial for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where violence against children, child marriage, child labour, low rates of birth registration and children on the move are particularly prevalent, and thus require a multi-stakeholders approach within the individual States and across borders. However, despite the fact that the three MRU States have all developed child protection polices and child rights legislation, they continue to struggle to address child rights issues due to negative traditional practices such as child marriage and child fostering, lack of sufficient financing of programmes, weak coordination among actors and lack of data to inform practical actions. Additionally, extreme poverty underlines a child’s vulnerability to these forms of exploitation, along with other push factors such as lack of educational opportunities, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, rural to urban migration and loss of close family members.
While DCI welcomes the MRU States’ commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union Agenda 2023 and in many regional polices including the Child Protection Strategic Framework, it is calling on MRU States to immediately scale up national and regional policy implementation for the protection and promotion of the rights of children in the region
Additionally, DCI urges MRU States to increase the allocation public budgets to children issues as well as to support the designing and implementation of child-centered programming. DCI is also calling on MRU States to increase access to quality and affordable education for children. More specifically, DCI is calling the Sierra Leonean government to withdraw the ban on pregnant girls attending school across Sierra Leone and to provide safe learning environment for children to stay in schools and strive.
Finally, DCI is calling on MRU States to provide access to finance for families especially in rural communities thereby reducing children’s vulnerability to sexual violence, domestic violence, child trafficking and migration.
To learn more about the 5th Convening, please contact DCI – Sierra Leone at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at: +232 88818089.